Volkswagen may not be alone in emissions cheating

This month Volkswagen was effectively caught cheating on standard emissions guidelines by sidestepping test conditions with software turn-off switches. This rigged diesel testing scandal is having such a big impact that the CEO of the company has quit. Now it would appear that Volkswagen may not be alone, as a study from European Federation for Transport and Environment suggests more than just the German auto company may be cheating on or side-stepping similar tests.

The data the European Federation for Transport and Environment is working with comes from the International Council on Clean Transportation. This is the same organization that tested Volkswagen, leading to the scandal that currently has their board of directors in an uproar.

According to the European Federation for Transport and Environment, the European Diesel emissions testing procedure is not up to snuff. "A substantial part of the problem is related to a weak testing framework and insufficient monitoring and enforcement."

This study suggests that emissions tests on 32 Euro 6 diesel passenger cars from 10 different manufacturers were tested. Results, they say, show "some" automakers meeting emissions standards in real-world driving tests, while others simply meet standards under testing conditions.

The RDE, or real-driving emissions test, will become a mandatory test in Europe as of January 2016. A new test of the emissions certification driving cycle by the name of Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Cycle will be in effect from 2017 onward.

"Three LNT-equipped vehicles exhibited very poor performance over the WLTC, with one car emitting up to 1,167 mg/km of NOx (15 times the regulated limit)," said the study's outline. LNT stands for lean-NOx trap, one of several NOx after-treatment technologies equipped on vehicles today.

The study also suggests that "three vehicles equipped with LNTs... had extreme NOX emission levels (1167 mg/km, 708 mg/km and 553 mg/km of NOX, respectively)." They suggest that this indicates that "in some cases", LNT technology worked well on the certification test, but not in the "more transient, real-world conditions represented by the WLTC."

We'll see whether or not these sorts of systems perform within standards across the planet sooner than later. Expect the fallout from Volkswagen's mishap to be large.

You can read the full white paper report under the title NOx Control Technologies for Euro 6 Diesel Passenger Cars Market Penetration and Experimental Performance Assessment. This paper is authored by Liuhanzi Yang, Vicente Franco, Alex Campestrini, John German, and Peter Mock, and can be found at the International Council on Clean Transportation.